2013 Goal Update

Could you save an average of $4000 a month for an entire year?  In effect, that was my goal for 2013 when I set a target of $48,000 in contributions.  Yet given we had plans for our month long vacation and my wife’s trip back out to Gander, NL to see her baby niece it was bound to be a significant challenge to achieve that goal.

Yet now that there are only a few days left in the month I can say I’m so close to making it that I can smell it.  Yet I confess that I might end up just a little bit short, I’m not 100% sure yet.  The last $500 or so might not actually happen.  So let’s assume for the moment I do miss that last $500, what happens?

Not much of anything to be honest.  The goal was entirely just based on my estimated cash flows for the year, so the reality is if I miss it by $500 or 1% I’m not really freaking out.  After all trying to hit that precise of a target that far out with so much variability in life, I could live with failure if that is what it looks like.

You see some goals are precise and have no grey zone around them.  For athletes you often just either win or lose,  there really isn’t much else.  No one recalls who loses the big game in a few years time.  Yet other goals like my savings target are lines in the sand.  They exist only to help steer me in the right direction, but I still can win the war even if I lose this particular battle.

On a similar note I’m going to be over budget in our Christmas shopping for the first time in a decade by a whole $90.  I failed to meet another target, but then again was it a reasonable budget to begin with…looking back I don’t think so.  We missed one person entirely we would have to buy for, so we didn’t have enough slack in our other spending to cover it.

The point is when saving for something that takes decades it is ok to fail at some of your interim goals.  Frankly I would be shocked is anyone met all their goals all the time, as it would indicate to me the goals are too easy.  Failure is part of life, without the risk of missing a goal you don’t have anything to push yourself with.  So get comfortable with failure, take it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, but also don’t forget to celebrate your successes too.

How do you handle failing to meet a goal?  Or how do you celebrate when you achieve one?

10 thoughts on “2013 Goal Update”

  1. I’m wondering if your $4000 a month includes savings required through your employer such as pension with contributions by yourself and the company? Either way, congrats, that is a great achievement.

  2. Your $4000/month seemed like such a big number, but then I went and looked at ours and we should be around $43,000 for the year, so not much different. And that doesn’t include my husband’s work pension as I don’t really understand it, or typically look at his paystubs, so don’t track it as savings.

  3. I checked my records and saw that I hit the $48,000 annual savings rate twice (not counting the ER year I cashed out my company stock for a 6-figure lump-sum payout) and was only a few hundred dollars away from it a third time in one of my part-time years. Two of the 3 years (1999-2000) were the ones I was working full-time the entire year, had become debt-free (paid off the morttgage), and had a booming stock market. Employer contributions to my 401k plan did not matter (they were relatively small) although they nearly put me over in that third year).

    I always saw those 2-3 years of full-time work after I paid off the mortgage as the best ones in terms of being able to juice up my savings, putting on a continuing path toward being able to work part-time and eventually ER. Looks like the same thing is happening to you, Tim.

  4. That pretty awesome Tim. In our mid 30’s, we were saving about 4k per month as well. Now in our early 40’s, we have since paid off our mortgage, had some nice raises, and watched our dividend income steadily grow. Currently saving about 80% of our income, about 9k monthly…. almost ER time for yours truly. 😉

    I think for ER to become reality, these high savings rates are necessary. Probably why the vast majority of folks will end up working into old age… debt statistics for Canadians are downright scary.

  5. Very impressive saving amount Tim. Is the savings listed a combination of you and your spouse, or just your personal amount?

  6. I didn’t have an explicit savings goal for 2013, I always just have a process that I follow. Used to be saving one paycheque/month and spending the other, then trying to stick to a certain savings rate. Now it’s trying to live off of dividend income and just saving whatever I earn from work. It’s like Scott Adams “systems trumps goals” method – but I suspect you actually use a system and goals just present a best guess target.
    For 2014 it looks like I’ll be able to give myself a $5-6k raise in dividend income. Can’t say it’s a stretch goal though since I’m working a 2 week on, 2 week off contract up to June 15. Anyway, that’s about what I’d like to spend in travel annually so am happy to be working to pay for that without cutting anything else. Except the grocery bill – that got mysteriously out of control this year. I blame the Costco membership. I’d like to trim that and beef up the restaurant bill (ie. go out more with friends) or do more little day/weekend trips.

  7. @G.W.H – Yes that is both my spouse and my savings totals. Sorry for the delay on the response…I didn’t see your comment before I left on holidays.


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